Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Corsair List

John Wayne
Bull Connor
Dog the Bounty Hunter
Paris Hilton
Mel Gibson
Donald Sterling
Rudy Giuliani

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Alec Baldwin Interviews Ira Glass

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin listen to their countries national anthems prior to St. Petersburg Dialogue forum in Wiesbaden, in this October 15, 2007 file photo.  REUTERS-Kai Pfaffenbach-Files

"Ahead of a summit of G20 leaders in Australia, Merkel resolved to confront Vladimir Putin alone, without the usual pack of interpreters and aides. Instead of challenging him on what she saw as a string of broken promises, she would ask the Russian president to spell out exactly what he wanted in Ukraine and other former Soviet satellites the Kremlin had started bombarding with propaganda. On Nov. 15 at 10 p.m., a world away from the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine, the two met on the eighth floor of the Brisbane Hilton. The meeting did not go as hoped.
For nearly four hours, Merkel -- joined around midnight by new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker -- tried to get the former KGB agent, a fluent German speaker, to let down his guard and clearly state his intentions. But all the chancellor got from Putin, officials briefed on the conversation told Reuters, were the same denials and dodges she had been hearing for months 'He radiated coldness,' one official said of the encounter. 'Putin has dug himself in and he can't get out.' The meeting in Brisbane, and a separate one in Milan one month before -- where Putin made promises about Russian behavior in eastern Ukraine that German officials say were broken within days -- pushed frustration levels in Berlin to new heights. Merkel had hit a diplomatic dead-end with Putin. Since February, when the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, fled Kiev amid violent protests on the Maidan square, Germany has taken the lead in trying to convince Putin to engage with the West. Merkel has spoken to him by phone three dozen times. Her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), traditionally a Russia-friendly party, has invested hundreds of hours trying to secure a negotiated solution to the conflict. Now, German officials say, they have run out of ideas about how they might sway the Russian leader. The channels of communication with Putin will remain open, but Berlin is girding for a long standoff, akin to a second Cold War." (Reuters)

Pope Francis arrives to deliver a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, November 25, 2014. Pope Francis told Europe's leaders on Tuesday to do more to help thousands of migrants risking their lives trying to get into the continent, saying they had to stop the Mediterranean becoming "a vast cemetery". REUTERS/Patrick Hertzog/Pool (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)©Reuters

"Pope Francis likened Europe to a barren grandmother, calling the continent 'elderly and haggard' during an address to members of the European parliament that had supposedly been meant to raise the spirits of a region mired in economic stagnation. The 77-year-old Argentine pontiff made the remarks during a visit to Strasbourg that was the first address to the parliament by the head of the Catholic church since John Paul II spoke there 26 years ago. Pope Francis told MEPs he wanted to convey a message of 'hope and encouragement' to a continent brought low by sluggish growth and high unemployment.  Yet he was particularly vivid in depicting its sense of decline. 'We encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe that is now a grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant,' the Pope said. 'The great ideals which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions,' he added. The Pope exhorted the lawmakers, who were elected in May, to build Europe 'not around the economy, but around the sacred nature of the human person'. In terms of specific issues, the Pope emphasised immigration. He urged MEPs to do more to prevent the watery deaths of thousands of migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea. 'We cannot allow the Mediterranean Sea to become a vast cemetery,' said the Pope, who last year visited the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, a landing zone for migrants that has become a focal point of Europe’s immigration debate." (FT)

The Duchess of Alba dancing with her third hus

"The Duchess of Alba, a flamboyant Spanish aristocrat known for her lifestyle, her vast wealth, her art collection and her unmatched list of titles, died on Thursday in her palace in Seville. She was 88. Her death was announced by the mayor of Seville, Juan Ignacio Zoido.The duchess — her full name was María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva — had more than 40 titles, largely inherited through ancestors’ marriages. She was recognized by Guinness World Records as the noble with the most official titles in the world. Certain privileges came with her status as head of the five-century-old House of Alba. She did not have to kneel before the pope, for example, and she had the right to ride on horseback into Seville Cathedral. But more than her titles and her royal relations, it was her romantic life and her outspokenness that fascinated the Spanis1926, in the family’s Liria Palace in Madrid, where Francisco Goya had painted one of her ancestors. But she spent some of her formative years in London, where her father was posted as ambassador during World War II.She returned to Spain to marry Pedro Luis Martínez de Irujo y Artàzcoz, the son of the Duke of Sotomayor, in a lavish ceremony in Seville Cathedral that The New York Times called “the most expensive wedding in the world.” After her husband’s death in 1972, the duchess made a highly unconventional choice by marrying her confessor, a defrocked Jesuit priest, Jesús Aguirre y Ortiz de Zárate, who was 11 years her junior. He died in 2001 ... The Alba family fortune has been estimated at $4.4 billion, although much of that wealth has not been officially valued ... Besides their estates, the Alba family owns one of the finest and largest art collections in private Spanish hands, reaching back five centuries to the origins of the family. " (NYT)

Jon Stewart on Howard Stern

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to yield an agreement, but the deadline for a deal has been extended without a hitch. What would have been a significant crisis a year ago, replete with threats and anxiety, has been handled without drama or difficulty. This new response to yet another failure to reach an accord marks a shift in the relationship between the United States and Iran, a shift that can’t be understood without first considering the massive geopolitical shifts that have taken place in the Middle East, redefining the urgency of the nuclear issue. These shifts are rooted in the emergence of the Islamic State. Ideologically, there is little difference between the Islamic State and other radical Islamic jihadist movements. But in terms of geographical presence, the Islamic State has set itself apart from the rest. While al Qaeda might have longed to take control of a significant nation-state, it primarily remained a sparse, if widespread, terrorist organization. It held no significant territory permanently; it was a movement, not a place. But the Islamic State, as its name suggests, is different. It sees itself as the kernel from which a transnational Islamic state should grow, and it has established itself in Syria and Iraq as a geographical entity. The group controls a roughly defined region in the two countries, and it has something of a conventional military, designed to defend and expand the state’s control. Thus far, whatever advances and reversals it has seen, the Islamic State has retained this character. While the group certainly funnels a substantial portion of its power into dispersed guerrilla formations and retains a significant regional terrorist apparatus, it remains something rather new for the region — an Islamist movement acting as a regional state. It is unclear whether the Islamic State can survive. It is under attack by American aircraft, and the United States is attempting to create a coalition force that will attack and conquer it. It is also unclear whether the group can expand. The Islamic State appears to have reached its limits in Kurdistan, and the Iraqi army (which was badly defeated in the first stage of the Islamic State's emergence) is showing some signs of being able to launch counteroffensives." (STRAFOR)

"When President Obama first summoned Chuck Hagel to the Oval Office in October, he wanted to know how his Pentagon chief planned to cope with the dangerous new threat posed by the Islamic State that had drawn the reluctant president back into war in the Middle East, not to mention getting a sense of Hagel’s other plans for the final two years of Obama’s presidency. But after several lackluster, low-energy sessions, Obama was so unimpressed by the performance of his laconic, self-effacing defense secretary that he decided Hagel 'just wasn’t the man for the job,' according to a senior administration official. That set in motion the decision that led to Hagel’s decorous dumping on Monday by a president who almost never fires anybody—and never admits it when he does.Hagel, a heavy-lidded former Republican senator from Nebraska with an iconoclastic streak, freely acknowledged his own shortcomings in at least three meetings with Obama. He had signed on to preside over the end of Obama’s wars, a period the president envisioned as a time of downshifting and pulling back for the over-stressed American military. But that was then, after the 2012 election; now, Hagel reckoned, he wasn’t the kind of gung-ho, wartime consigliere Obama needed as he recalibrates his national security strategy to deal with a new round of conflict in the Middle East. But Hagel also fired back: After reports began surfacing of White House dissatisfaction with his performance in the past few monthsincluding an ominous column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatiushe dashed off an uncharacteristically sharp memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice slamming the administration’s Syria policy as rudderless and ill-defined. 'I don’t think he knew when the axe would fall, but he knew it was time,' said a person close to Hagel. 'He also knows that it isn’t really about him. … It’s hard to find a rationale for getting rid of Hagel that was entirely about Hagel. It has as much to do with the internal politics of the White House, and the larger policy issues, as it has to do with him.'" (Politico)

"Less than 48 hours after President Obama nominated Antonio F. Weiss, a longtime adviser on mergers at the investment bank Lazard and a Democratic supporter, to become the under secretary of Treasury for domestic finance, Senator Elizabeth Warren denounced the appointment and said that she would vote against his confirmation. 'Enough is enough,' Senator Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, declared. She said she was furious that the president would nominate someone from Wall Street. 'It’s time for the Obama administration to loosen the hold that Wall Street banks have over economic policy-making,' she wrote on The Huffington Post Specifically, she took Mr. Weiss to task for working as an adviser on Burger King’s merger with Tim Hortons, which will result in a combined company based in Canada, which she suggested should disqualify him. It is rare to see such ferocious opposition to a nominee for a deputy position in the Treasury Department. It is rarer still when the objection comes from within the administration’s own party. Yet Ms. Warren’s wrath is misdirected, and her understanding of the so-called inversion deal on which she bases much of her opposition appears misinformed. On these issues, as she might say, 'Enough is enough.' Before getting into the details of the deal, let’s start with Mr. Weiss. He is hardly the prototypical banker. He is a protégé of the writer and editor George Plimpton and is the publisher of The Paris Review, the literary magazine, giving it financial support it for years to keep it alive. He works at Lazard, not Citigroup. He never worked at a firm that needed help from the government. He has spent his career whispering strategic advice in the ears of corporate leaders. He has been a staunch supporter — and campaign donation bundler — for President Obama and is considered relatively progressive, especially by Wall Street standards. Oddly enough, Mr. Weiss is one of the few people within financial circles who might have been friends with Ms. Warren." (Andrew Ross Sorkin)

"I went to lunch at Tiffany. Not quite the same as Breakfast but fine by me. It was Tiffany’s annual holiday luncheon. I’ve written about this before. It’s purely a business public relations event. The guest list is editors, fashion editors, fashion reporters, etc. Everybody feels the same way I do. There’s just something very nice about it. It has a bit of a warmth to the way it’s done. It is Tiffany’s way of thanking those who write about their business and their products. 'Products' sounds like a mundane word for what they sell because Tiffany is elegant and refined and classically classy. So is the luncheon. It’s always held in what is an executive meeting room. It’s functional for a large group dining. I notice that this year the room had been redecorated, very white on white as you can see in the photos I took, with a plush, very silken white rug and wintertime murals on the wall.  Waiters were standing at the entrance with flutes of champagne and glasses of white wine, and sparkling water. In my experience most editors don’t get to speak with each other about their work and their interest. At this lunch, however, people have a good time getting to know people they 'know of.' In my conversations the Kardashians came up several times." (NYSD)

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Broad Abroad: Paula Froelich, Upgraded

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Photograph by Jock Fistick.
DEEP FOCUS Angela Merkel shares a moment with then French president Nicolas Sarkozy during a European Council meeting, in Brussels, March 13, 2008.

"As the old Market Church bells tolled in Hannover last October 3 on German Unity Day, commemorating Germany’s re-unification, Angela Merkel walked briskly over the cobblestones and paused at the entryway of the church to greet a few members of a children’s choir, dressed untraditionally in red sweatshirts and black pants. She herself was in her chancellor-of-Germany uniform: a brightly colored jacket, simple necklace, black pants, and low heels. She had TV pancake makeup on, but her sensible-matron look—cropped, softly colored blond hair, little lipstick—is always carefully calibrated to appear as if she were wearing no makeup at all. Only a couple of security guards could be seen anywhere in the church; there was no fanfare like the playing of “Hail to the Chief,” and, going up the aisle, she did not pause to shake hands with any of the congregation of 1,200 religious leaders, dignitaries, and diplomats. To think that only 25 years ago Angela Merkel was a divorced 35-year-old East German physicist specializing in quantum chemistry, who was not allowed to set foot in West Berlin and had never uttered a political opinion in public, was a striking affirmation of both the ability of Germany to recover and her own ability to succeed. After nine years of her rule, however, many Germans still see her as from the East, not really one of them. They understand that as Merkel plays an ever enlarging role in the world—going head-to-head with Putin, charming China, exasperating and infuriating her European Union partners with her unyielding demands—she, who wants nothing to do with being seen as a 'female' leader, has become The Man striding across the global stage. But, even so, Germans seem puzzled by Angela Merkel. 'She came as an outsider and she stayed an outsider,' Ines Pohl, editor of the Berlin alternative daily, Die Tageszeitung, commonly known as Taz, told me. 'She’s spooky, because how can she manage all these things? She’s not really a woman you can love—admire and be proud of, yes. But you always feel her killer instinct.' 'She governs by silence,' says Dirk Kurbjuweit of Der Spiegel, who wrote a 2009 biography of Merkel. 'It’s her biggest advantage and disadvantage. She never says something fast. She waits and waits to see where the train is going and then she jumps on the train. Part of this she learned in the G.D.R. [Communist East Germany]. She knew she had to watch her words—there’s nobody better at [vague] words than Angela Merkel.'" (VanityFair)

Thursday night's Pratt benefit in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle.

"This week’s calendar was the reason for last week’s calendar – people packing in their events before the long upcoming holiday. For example, last Thursday night was a calendar-jammer. Over at the Mandarin-Oriental, Pratt Institute held its 'Legends' evening, a scholarship benefit where they honored Iris Apfel, Kim Hastreiter, founder and editor-in-chief of Paper Magazine; and David and Sybil Yurman, the jewelers. Down at Cipriani Wall Street, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation honored Senator Tom Harkin and Travis Roy at its annual A Magical Evening: Gala Benefit. Over at Metropolitan West the IDEAL School and Academy held its 10th annual gala, honoring trustee Kenneth Mehlman." (NYSD)

"There was a time I was related to a former Prime Minister of Peru.  I was in Lima visiting, he was obsessed with security and never left his reinforced apartment in the San Ysidro area without a bodyguard as well as a couple of revolvers, one in his jacket pocket so that it sagged like the belly of a pregnant bitch, and another stuck in the waistband of his slacks. Sometimes when we drove around the city he liked to drive with the security guard in the passenger seat, buckled in and looking impotent. Lima’s streets were busy with impatient drivers and few police and fewer rules, all the cars seemingly racing instead of merely getting from place to place. But the former Prime Minister had his own tricks to stay alpha in the face of all those lesser dogs at the wheels. He would, while pressing the horn of his car with one hand, and steering with the knees of his long legs, with his free hand he would wave around one of his pistols, right out the window and directly at the shocked faces of all around. One day, we were walking into a restaurant which was a bungalow with a squad of ninjas on the roof all dressed in black and pointing AK47s, security for the restaurant, this was the 1980s, a different time. A time of violence and hunger strikes and sit ins at the Parliament and a time of riots in the big city square where authors were considering running for elected office." (Christina Oxenberg)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"First, as (Martin) Wolf says, developments in emerging markets, especially in Asia, have in some ways been a mirror image of developments in advanced economies. While the United States was experiencing its 'great moderation,' emerging markets were being whipsawed by huge inflows and outflows of capital (made possible by the widespread dismantling of capital controls). It’s interesting to ask why the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, which brought Great Depression–level slumps to several economies and pushed Japan into prolonged stagnation and deflation, didn’t shake the policy complacency of Western economists. But it didn’t. (Full disclosure: I did indeed see that crisis as an omen, and published a book to that effect, The Return of Depression Economics, in 1999.) What it did do was convince emerging markets that they needed huge foreign currency reserves as insurance against future crises. And the enormous accumulation of overseas assets meant that the Chinese and many others were, in effect, lending large sums at very low interest to advanced economies, the United States in particular. In another influential speech, Ben Bernanke dubbed this phenomenon the “global savings glut.” At the time (2005), this analysis was meant to be reassuring: Bernanke was telling his audience not to worry too much about large-scale US borrowing from abroad. But Wolf argues that the savings glut interacted with unsound finance to make America even more vulnerable to crisis. If the 1990s were an era of crisis in developing countries, the years since 2010 have been an era of crisis in Europe. In a general sense the euro crisis follows the Minsky schema. There was a complacency-fueled rise in debt, followed by a severe slump as many debtors were forced to retrench at the same time. In the European case, however, complacency came not so much from the experience of stability as from the false belief that a shared currency, the euro, eliminated lending risks. Borrowing costs in Spain, for example, plunged in the late 1990s, as it became clear that Spain would indeed share a currency with Germany. Low interest rates, in turn, helped inflate an enormous housing bubble. And when this bubble burst, Spain and other borrowers—with no currencies of their own—found themselves with no room for maneuver, forced into fiscal austerity that deepened their slumps. While the special circumstances of emerging markets and the euro area complicate the narrative, however, Wolf’s essential story remains that of Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis: stability begets complacency, complacency begets carelessness and hence fragility, and fragility sets the stage for crisis." (Paul Krugman)

"The Democratic presidential bench is looking a little thin these days, isn’t it? After Hillary Clinton, we have ... um ... Jim Webb, who I bet you can’t even remember what office he held, and outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who couldn’t even get his own lieutenant governor elected as his handpicked successor in a blue state. If anything happens to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee will effectively be taking out LeBron James to send in Pee-wee Herman.
But how big a problem is this? You don’t need a dozen good people on the bench, just one or two who could make a plausible run for the presidency. And those people tend not to emerge when there’s not much of a realistic shot at winning -- for example, when you’ve got a high-profile candidate with great name recognition, primary experience and most of your party’s donor base sitting in their back pocket. Once Hillary wins or loses, other people will presumably start grooming themselves for a serious run, rather than make an idealistic attempt to pull the party leftward in the primaries or a long audition for the VP slot. I’ve seen this argument made by smart people who know more about politics than I do, and part of me is convinced. But the other part of me wonders where those candidates are going to come from if Democrats remain confined to the deep-blue parts of the map. Those places are more populous, but less numerous, than the red states -- which means fewer governors and congressmen to choose from. Especially because a few blue states have shown a penchant for electing Republican moderates to rein in their liberal legislatures." (Megan McArdle)

Bill Cosby
Stephen Lovekin/Getty
Bill Cosby speaks at the Jackie Robinson Foundation 2014 Awards Dinner in New York City on March 3rd, 2014.

"Two of Bill Cosby's 17 rape accusers talked to Rolling Stone about what it feels like to bring down America's Favorite Dad. 'I have been trying to be heard since 2006,' Phoenix artist Barbara Bowman says. 'We have a culture that re-victimizes the victims. It is the most shameful, scary intimidating filthy place to live. It is a place of shame and darkness and fear. When people ask, why didn't you tell anyone? Well I did tell someone.' In the 1980s, Bowman was an ethereal 18-year-old blonde aspiring actress when a female agent introduced her to Cosby, who eventually drugged and raped her. 'There was a good year of grooming and slowly, methodically, calculatingly tearing my spirit apart,' she says. 'I was an only child. I had no dad. My mother was not in New York with me. The only friend I had was a model also transitioning to New York. She knew and they knew she knew, so they separated us. We told my agent together and I never spoke to her again for 28 years." The agent, Bowman says, sent her home to her mother in Denver. Bowman first told her story to the media in 2006, to back up another woman's civil lawsuit against Cosby for similar behavior. Since last weekend, when she published an op-ed in the Washington Post, Bowman says her phone has been ringing off the hook. 'He is going to go down,' she says. 'I believe he will go down as this generation's most prolific serial rapist. We are gathering a lot of details. I am not in a position to reveal things I have learned. I have heard from men and women, from people with information. And I think the public's mind will be blown.' She says she's heard from six more women, none yet gone public, about similar incidents involving Cosby. New York-based writer Jean Tarshis, also spoke with Rolling Stone. Until this week, Tarshis had never talked publicly about her Cosby experience. Tarshis was an aspiring comedy writer in her early twenties when she encountered Cosby in L.A. in 1969. She says he drugged her and she woke up to him sticking his penis in her mouth. She never reported the incident, she says, because it took her 10 years to realize that what happened to her was rape, and then another 10 years to speak of it privately, to friends. 'When people say, do you feel bad that people are accusing you of coming forward late, my response is there is nothing anyone can say that I haven't said to put myself down,' she says. 'After the first people I admitted it to, then I could speak more freely to others. But I had to pick and choose because of who it was. It wasn't 'oh I was raped by John Doe.' He was royalty, a beloved figure. He was adored.'" (Nina Burleigh/Rolling Stone)

A Special Snobbery

"To the grand Herrera house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for lunch in honor of Lord and Lady Linley. David Linley is over here to receive an award for his designs, which even rubes like myself where furniture is concerned find wonderful. Princess Margaret’s son is talented, but he’s also a very nice man. His parents must have done something right because he’s lived a scandal-free life—as has his sister—something other British royals cannot claim. He also earns his own living, as rare among royals as a neoconservative Marine. My hostess, Carolina Herrera, is the best fashion designer in America, by far. She and her husband were very close to Princess Margaret, and David and Serena stay with them whenever they’re in (NYC). It was a fun lunch, with editors of glossy magazines, princes of no longer existing monarchies, a very pretty English lady assistant to Linley, and so on. The latter told me how Marie-Christine of Kent once said of Linley, 'Who cares what a carpenter thinks?'—forgetting, as the fabulist who claims to be related to royals who are unaware of it tends to do while putting her ungainly large foot in it, that our Lord Jesus was a carpenter himself.
Looking around, it struck me that there were no Americans present. This was not by design, but in today’s money-comes-first society, some of our recently minted billionaires are not exactly house-trained, hence their absence. (They have little education, absolutely no taste, and not the slightest perception of refinement or beauty.) Mind you, the English have always reserved their praise of Americans for dancing girls, blues singers, and god-awful rappers who offer British 'artists' no serious competition. I’m afraid this is true. There is a fundamental aversion to anything American in Britain, although the worse the product that comes out of the home of the depraved, the quicker the Brits adopt it. Our own Paul Johnson has always touched upon this. The sneering, the obnoxious condescension, the antipathy toward anything American reached its highest point during the Thatcher-Reagan years. The more the Iron Lady copied Reagan’s Cold War policies, the more the left jeered and shouted. Which brings me to the 'special relationship,' as it’s called, that of the UK and the U.S.A." (Taki)

"The refrain: 'Another opening, another show.' The reality: Another week, another Tina Brown gala. This one for retired General Wesley Clark’s new book, 'Don’t Wait for the Next War.' The general: 'We must come together as a country. A war needs strategy. We can’t lurch from crisis to crisis and just wait for the next war. Eisenhower had strategy. So smart, he knew our real strength was economy, not armed forces. Until there was no more Soviet Union, we all knew our purpose. Fight Communism. This book’s about framing what’s in the headlines. A way to frame what America should be doing.' To honor this four-star general, Europe’s Supreme Allied Commander, a Purple Heart and Medal of Freedom wearer, came handsome former Foreign Affairs editor James Hoge." (Cindy Adams)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What was Bill Cosby's Relationship with The National Enquirer?

There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding Bill Cosby and his accusers. We'll have to wait another day, if ever, for those questions to be answered. However, one question -- on the media side -- that I've always wondered about is: What exactly was Bill Cosby's relationship with The National Enquirer. I ask because their relationship is unusual. Nowadays, of course, the Enquirer is just as rabid in pursuit of the details as any other satellite of the celebrity gossip cosmos. But it wasn't always that way. Until, in fact, the recent flare up, the National Enquirer was downright friendly with Cosby, which is unusual to say the least (they were not nearly as friendly with Carol Burnett, another beloved TV star).

The Enquirer is not really known for acts of altruism when it comes to the celebrities it covers.

And yet .. they put up $100,000 to find the murderer of his son, Ennis. "Papers usually just announce rewards that other groups are offering, and to some this bounty seemed a lot like The Enquirer's practice of paying its sources—a major taboo in mainstream journalism." said Ethan Trex in Mental Floss. "The reward worked, though. Witness Chris So learned of the huge reward and led police to the revolver used in the slaying by killer Mikhail Markhasev.  The Enquirer also obtained copies of jailhouse letters that pointed to Markhasev's guilt. Thanks in part to this evidence, Markhasev received a sentence of life without parole, plus 10 years." Further, the Enquirer kept up with sympathetic Cosby stories for some time afterwards.

The Enquirer pays for stories, and operated in sometimes murky, Wild West era of celebrity tabloid  gossip that is now much less murky and much less print-centric. It would seem that there was at some time some sort of relationship between Cosby and the National Enquirer. It probably didn't involve cash as Bill Cosby doesn't need the money. So -- what exactly was the nature of the relationship between Cosby and the tabloid? Why were they so exceptionally friendly with him?

Enquiring minds would like to know.

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Charles Schumer are pictured. | Getty

"New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has long been viewed as the heir apparent to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, with such strong support among moderates that a group of them privately urged him to mount a coup for party leader after the midterm election meltdown. Schumer didn’t take on Reid — he’s too loyal — but he is being forced to face a new power center inside the caucus, populists such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren. When Reid was in talks with Warren about a job in Senate leadership earlier this month, Schumer suggested tapping moderate Sen. Mark Warner, too, to balance out her progressive politics — or perhaps making her a 'liaison to liberal groups,' a narrower job than what Reid had proposed, according to sources familiar with the private talks. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said no to both of Schumer’s suggestions, later taking the job as a policy adviser to Schumer’s messaging operation. Warren’s rise in Senate leadership – and her popularity among grassroots liberals – represents an unexpected presence in Schumer’s leadership orbit, where he has spent years cultivating a reputation as one of the masterminds of Democratic messaging.
As one Senate Democratic source put it: 'The turf [Schumer] thought he knew may have shifted beneath his feet.' Schumer allies fiercely deny there was an effort to neutralize her. 'There was no 'dust-up,’ said one source close to Schumer. 'These were discussions, not offers to be rejected or accepted. Schumer is excited with the outcome and looks forward to working with our new leadership team.' No senator believes Warren is about to jump in line in front of Schumer for party leader, but her promotion still creates challenges for the New Yorker as he tries to craft party messaging that keeps both liberals and moderates satisfied. And with Reid now in the top Democratic spot for at least another two years, and a bevy of ambitious Democrats suddenly surrounding him on the leadership team, the chatter in some Senate circles has become: When will it be Schumer’s time to run the caucus?" (Politico)

Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

"The Republican Party has had some bad ideas, but it has never come up with a political tactic as obviously stupid as shutting down the federal government to protest President Obama’s immigration policies. It is almost a masterpiece of self-sabotage, harnessing the party’s most self-destructive short-term political maneuver to its most dangerous long-term demographic liability. It is the sharks-with-laser-beams of political maneuvers ... Incredibly, in the short time since the midterms, the prospect of a shutdown has progressed from unthinkable to probable enough that Republicans are apparently wracking their brains to come up with an alternative ... Well, they could — I dunno, just spitballing here — try maybe not shutting down the government. It’s just crazy enough to work. The Republicans certainly have a valid procedural complaint about Obama’s prospective plan. The legal consensus is that the president is perfectly in his rights to use selective enforcement to carve out vast new practical exceptions to existing immigration law. Likewise, the Republican Congress was perfectly within its legal rights to refuse to lift the debt ceiling unless Obama submitted to various policy demands. The fair accusation is that Obama is playing Constitutional hardball, pushing his existing powers in new, potentially dangerous directions. One can imagine a future Republican president using selective enforcement to neuter elements of the tax code." (NYMag)

"Wednesday/Michael’s. The joint was jumpin’. Full up from front to back. Missing were Da Boyz, all of ‘em and a few others we often see on Wednesday. In the rundown, you will see many single names. Nobody was lunching alone. I simply didn’t know the names of their lunch partners. There are others who escaped my notice; many. The Mr. Lloyd listed in the sidebar is a grandson of the late Bunny Mellon. He and his wife, who live in Washington, DC, had come up to New York for Tuesday night’s Preview cocktail of his grandmother’s collection sale at Sotheby’s. They were lunching yesterday with Bryan Huffman, an interior designer from North Carolina who was a personal friend of Mrs. Mellon, and with Meryl Gordon who has written a biography of Brooke Astor as well as Huguette Clark, the 105-year-old mysterious heiress who died here in New York three years ago and left tens of millions to her maid and nurse as well as her accountant and lawyer. She is now working on a biography of Mrs. Mellon. The Bunny Mellon art sale was the first of what will have been mainly three sales (the catalogue has two volumes for the interiors items). The jewels and interiors sales took place yesterday and today, and continues until the 23rd." (NYSD)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Several of the Republicans planning to run in 2016 were hoping the midterms would have a winnowing effect—maybe some potential competitors would lose, or look weak. Instead, the GOP’s romp encouraged just about all of the prospects to make the leap, leaving the likely field bigger than ever. Not only were several of the candidates bolstered by their own wins, Republican strength in the purple states of Colorado, Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina made the party’s presidential nomination look very much like a prize worth having – a big change from past GOP fretting that Hillary Clinton seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut. As Republican governors gather in Florida for the first cattle call of the cycle, here’s our assessment of who is most likely to run – and who might take a pass: 1. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky … has done well in the invisible primary – fundraising, hiring, message, travel, buzz and media. Insiders tell us he has a 95 percent chance of running, with an announcement likely in April. His biggest hurdle is the pro-Israel leanings of many top GOP donors, who will have trouble accepting the recent course correction to his past skepticism of U.S. engagement abroad. 2. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas … is prime rib for the GOP base, with a brash fearlessness that gives him a good shot in the primaries and little chance in the general. Rivals admit that he could win the Iowa caucuses, though they contend he’ll burn hot but fast. Cruz has built his own mini-think tank of policy experts, and takes his Senate colleagues’ disdain for his antics as a badge of honor ... "(Politico)


"In 1969, when I was still living in London, I had gone with some friends to see Easy Rider in a movie theater in Piccadilly Circus and had returned alone some days later to see it again. It was Jack (Nicholson's) combination of ease and exuberance that had captured me from the moment he had come on-screen. I think it was probably upon seeing the film that, like many others, I first fell in love with Jack. The second time was when he opened the door to his house that early evening in April, with the late sun still golden in the sky. 'Good evening, ladies,' he said, beaming, and added in a slow drawl, 'I’m Jack, and I’m glad you could make it.' He motioned for us to enter. The front room was low-ceilinged, candlelit, and filled with strangers. There was Greek food, and music was playing. I danced with Jack for hours. And when he invited me to stay the night, I asked Cici what she thought.
'Are you kidding?' she said. 'Of course!' In the morning, when I woke up and put on my evening dress from the night before, Jack was already downstairs. Someone whom I came to recognize later as the screenwriter Robert Towne walked through the front door into the house and looked at me appraisingly as I stood on the upper landing. Then Jack appeared and said, 'I’m gonna send you home in a taxi, if that’s O.K., because I’m going to a ball game.' It was a half-hour ride back to the Palisades. When I got out of the cab, in the backless evening dress, Cici was at the door. She looked at me and just shook her head. 'I can’t believe you didn’t insist that he drive you home,' she said. 'What are you thinking? If he’s going to take you out again, he must come and pick you up and take you home.'  Jack called a few days later to ask me out. I said, 'Yes. But you have to pick me up, and you have to drive me home.' And he said, “O.K. All right. How about Saturday?' And I said, 'O.K. But you have to come and pick me up.' Then I got a follow-up call, Jack saying that he was sorry; he had to cancel our date because he had a previous obligation. 'Does that make me a secondary one?' I asked. 'Don’t say that,' he said. 'It’s not witty enough, and derogatory to both of us.' That evening, I decided to go out with the set designer Jeremy Railton, a friend from London, and the comedy writers Kenny Solms and Gail Parent. We were dining at the Old World café, on Sunset, when they started to whisper and giggle. When I asked what was going on, Gail said, 'You were supposed to see Jack tonight, right?' And I replied, “Yes, but he had a previous obligation.' Kenny said, 'Well, his previous obligation is a very pretty blonde, and he just went upstairs with her.' I took my wineglass in hand and with my heart racing climbed the stairs to the upper section of the restaurant. Jack was sitting in a booth with a beautiful young woman whom I immediately recognized—I had seen photographs of them together in magazines—as his ex-girlfriend Michelle Phillips. She was in the group the Mamas and the Papas. As I reached the table a shadow passed quickly over Jack’s face, like a cloud crossing the sun. I lifted my glass airily and said, 'I’m downstairs, and I just thought I’d come up to say hi.' He introduced Michelle, not missing a beat. She was charming. I guess they were at the end of their relationship at that point. One morning, some weeks later, she drove to his house on Mulholland Drive to collect something she had stored there. Discovering that I was with Jack, she came upstairs to his bedroom with two glasses of orange juice. From that moment, we became friends." (Angelica Houston/VF)

Jay McInerney.

"Also on Monday night was the New York Public Radio’s 9th annual benefit gala at 583 Park. This is the first time I’ve attended. It happened because a few months ago I was seated at a luncheon at the American Museum of Natural History next to Susan Solomon who is on the board of trustees of New York Public Radio. When I learned that she was involved with New York Public Radio, I happened to tell her that I listened to WQXR all the time, streaming it on my computer. I also told her how the best cab rides in town usually have WQXR on all the time. She invited me then to attend this benefit to see what they were doing. I tune in when I turn on my computer in the morning and at many other times when I am at my desk and not required to focus. I didn’t know until Monday night that QXR is part of New York Public Radio which includes WNYC  93.9 FM and WNYC AM 8320, as well as an All Bach Channel and the Jonathan (Schwartz) Channel ... Deborah Voigt was emcee with TV, stage and film actor Oliver Pratt. They were followed by Cynthia Vance, Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, and then Laura Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio. Both women talked about the progress and the dazzling future of Public Radio ... Meanwhile, same night, same time, over at the Metropolitan Club, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children held a Gala Wine Dinner, as its annual Fall benefit. Deborah Norville, glamorous in white silk, was the sublime emcee. They honored Bob and Ann Arns. The dinner featured a menu designed by renowned chef Anita Loo of Annisa (and author of 'Cooking Without Borders'. Author and wine critic Jay McInerney served -- to everyone’s pleasure -- as 'Sommelier of the Evening.'  This was the second annual Gala Wine dinner and it featured excellent wines from Napa Valley’s Tournesol which is owned by the honorees who have also been very supportive of the NYSPCC." (NYSD)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Andy Cohen on Howard Stern

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"President Obama has played a coy game on the Keystone XL pipeline, constantly delaying approval without committing himself fully to opposition. Coral Davenport and Ashley Parker today report out what Obama’s game is here: 'People familiar with the president’s thinking say that in 2015 he might use Keystone as a bargaining chip: He would offer Republicans approval of it in exchange for approval of one of his policies.' From Obama’s perspective, this plan makes perfect sense. The trouble is that Republicans almost certainly won’t trade him anything in return for the pipeline. The superficial logic of a Keystone trade makes sense. Obama doesn’t really care about the project much one way or the other. He regards it as a sideshow with negligible effects on climate change. Republicans, on the other hand, constantly implore him to approve it. That would seem, on the surface, to lay the basis for a logical trade of one kind or another. The trouble is, there’s little reason to think Republicans actually care about approving Keystone. Its value to them lies entirely in its use as a talking point. The pipeline is an easy, tangible example of a thing they propose to create jobs. In fact, the number of jobs the pipeline would create is pathetically negligible — around 2,000 jobs a year for two years to build it, after which maintaining the pipeline would require about 35 jobs. But the number of jobs Keystone creates is not the point. The point is that it sounds like something that creates jobs, because describing an actual tangible project makes it easy to visualize how people would be put to work on it. To be sure, there are policy changes Republicans actually believe would improve economic growth: cutting taxes for rich people, reducing spending on social programs, and deregulating the financial industry. The trouble is that all the things Republicans believe would actually create jobs are extremely unpopular. Keystone is a popular idea that can be sold as a Republican jobs plan." (NYMag)

"We do not normally comment on domestic political affairs unless they affect international affairs. However, it is necessary to consider American political affairs because they are likely to have a particular effect on international relations. We have now entered the final phase of Barack Obama's presidency, and like those of several other presidents since World War II, it is ending in what we call a state of failure. This is not a judgment on his presidency so much as on the political configuration within it and surrounding it. The midterm elections are over, and Congress and the president are in gridlock. This in itself is not significant; presidents as popular as Dwight Eisenhower found themselves in this condition. The problem occurs when there is not only an institutional split but also a shift in underlying public opinion against the president. There are many more sophisticated analyses of public opinion on politics, but I have found it useful to use this predictive model. I assume that underneath all of the churning, about 40 percent of the electorate is committed to each party. Twenty percent is uncommitted, with half of those being indifferent to the outcome of politics and the other half being genuinely interested and undecided. In most normal conditions, the real battle between the parties -- and by presidents -- is to hold their own bases and take as much of the center as possible. So long as a president is fighting for the center, his ability to govern remains intact. Thus, it is normal for a president to have a popularity rating that is less than 60 percent but more than 40 percent. When a president's popularity rating falls substantially below 40 percent and remains there for an extended period of time, the dynamics of politics shift. The president is no longer battling for the center but is fighting to hold on to his own supporters -- and he is failing to do so. When the president's support has fragmented to the point that he is fighting to recover his base, I considered that a failed presidency -- particularly when Congress is in the hands of the opposition. His energy cannot be directed toward new initiatives. It is directed toward recovering his base. And presidents who have fallen into this condition near the end of their presidencies have not been likely to recover and regain the center. Historically, when the president's popularity rating has dipped to about 37 percent, his position has been unrecoverable. This is what happened to George W. Bush in 2006. It happened to Richard Nixon in 1974 when the Watergate crisis resulted in his resignation, and to Lyndon Johnson in 1967 during the Vietnam War. It also happened to Harry Truman in 1951, primarily because of the Korean War, and to Herbert Hoover before World War II because of the Great Depression ... Of the five failed presidencies I've cited, one failed over scandal, one over the economy and three over wars -- Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Obama's case is less clear than any. The 40 percent who gravitated to the opposition opposed him for a host of reasons. He lost the center for complex reasons as well. However, looking at the timing of his decline, the only intruding event that might have had that impact was the rise of the Islamic State and a sense, even in his own party, that he did not have an effective response to it. Historically, extended wars that the president did not appear to have a strategy for fighting have been devastating to the presidency." (STRATFOR)

Harpist Mary Lattimore

To celebrate the Glass House's 65th birthday, Krug and Architectural Digest co-hosted a lunch in New Canaan, Connecticut, on Sunday, November 9th. Guests strolled through the Glass House campus and enjoyed Fujiko Nakaya's "Veil," the fog installation conceived by Nakaya with Glass House Director Henry Urbach. An intimate lunch in Philip Johnson's 1965 Painting Gallery had a festive feel with guests sitting down to lunch at two long farm tables surrounded by Frank Stella's paintings from the 1960s and '70s. After lunch, guests toured the Sculpture Gallery." (NYSD)

"The past two weeks of major fall auctions proved once again that there is no shortage of global hunger for blue chip masterpieces—be they classic Manet portraits, powerful Abstract Expressionist paintings or massive, shiny Jeff Koons animals. Sotheby's pulled in $343.3 million for its evening contemporary sale and Christie's smashed the record for the highest ever auction on Wednesday night, November 12, with an $853 million total for 80 works on offer. Auction specialists say they have watched the ranks of top collectors growing in the United States and Europe and also in countries like Brazil and China, where booming economies have produced many newly wealthy buyers eager to collect art. These so-called 'trophy hunters' are the collectors who are driving the top end of the market—the number of $10 and $20-million lots sold this season is unprecedented—and who are determined to own the best of the best. Here are some of the most active and wealthy buyers in the art market today." (ArtNews)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chuck Todd on WNYC

The Hill: Will the Obama Coalition Survive?

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

President Barack Obama talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. | Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

"The coalition of voters that twice elected President Obama to the White House might not be there for the Democratic nominee in 2016, party strategists are warning. Following their disastrous showing at the polls this month, many Democrats have consoled themselves with talk of how the groups that fueled Obama’s resounding victories — namely minorities and young people — will make up a bigger slice of the electorate in two years’ time. But some fear the party is placing far too much trust in demographics, while ignoring the unique circumstances that led to Obama’s rise.
'I don’t think the Democratic Party should take anyone for granted, or should just assume that these voters are just going to back our nominee, and more importantly, going to turn out for the same level as President Obama,' said Democratic strategist Doug Thornell. 'They’re going to need a reason and they’re going to need a message.' Obama won the Electoral College handily in 2008 and 2012, vanquishing the GOP with a coalition of millennials, minorities and women in swing states such as Ohio, Iowa and Colorado. The wave of support gave Obama the former GOP strongholds of Virginia (in both elections) and North Carolina (in 2008), stirring anxious chatter among Republicans about being locked out of the White House for years to come. Obama’s victories, combined with the rising Latino population, have convinced many Democrats that the presidential map is skewing decidedly in their favor. Yet some question whether the supposed advantages will materialize when the name at the top of the ballot isn’t Barack Obama." (TheHill)

"During a break from plotting the GOP takeover of the Senate, in a campaign based largely on dissatisfaction with the president, Mitch McConnell took a phone call from Barack Obama.Congress was about to leave for a five-week summer recess, and Obama and Senate Democrats were anxious: The president needed his people in places like Qatar, Kuwait and Algeria — something that could happen only with McConnell’s cooperation. McConnell agreed. A dozen ambassadors were approved in July, more than half the number confirmed in the previous seven months. Whenever there’s been outreach by the president and a desire to cooperate by McConnell — mostly over small things, but also in ending last year’s government shutdown — the president and Senate Republican leader have been able to get results. Now, as Obama and his aides consider life with a Republican-controlled Congress, they look at the incoming majority leader as the only person on Capitol Hill who can help deliver on a second-term legacy achievement. 'A grown-up' is how one White House aide described McConnell.It’s not as if Obama and others in the White House have forgotten their history with McConnell, but he looks better than other potential partners. The president’s relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s caucus has hit the rocks. He finds House Speaker John Boehner tedious and unreliable: Too many false starts and acrimonious endings have marred their relationship. House Democrats, for their part, are increasingly full of complaints about the president, but there will be so few of them come January that they’ll hardly matter.That marks a dramatic shift from the early years of the administration, when McConnell famously vowed to make Obama a one-term president.'McConnell was dead set on jamming the president, and that defined the relationship until now,' one senior administration official said. Now, the official said, 'McConnell and Obama are starting from scratch.'Nonetheless, it’s still unclear how the White House will be able to cut deals with McConnell without causing a revolt among Hill Democrats. And it’s unclear whether McConnell will be willing to cut deals that might put Boehner in hot water with conservative House Republicans." (Politico)


"This weekend, yet another woman — the 14th — came forward with rape accusations against Bill Cosby. Publicist Joan Tarshis says the comedian drugged and assaulted her multiple times in 1969, a crime she kept silent about for decades. 'As more and more of his rape victims have come forward, all telling similar stories,' Tarshis tells Hollywood Elsewhere, ' he time is right to join them.'At the time of the alleged assault, Tarshis was a 19-year-old comedy writer who had flown out to L.A. to work with Godfrey Cambridge. She met Cosby through some friends and began hanging around the set of his sitcom The Bill Cosby Show ... Tarshis says she never spoke a word of the alleged assaults for 20 years. She joins more than a dozen women who have accused Cosby of raping them over the course of decades, including Barbara Bowman, who last week wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, asking, "Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?" Cosby has stayed silent about the charges, and his lawyer says the comedian 'does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment.'" (NYMag)

Looking towards the back of Sette Mezzo where Mr. Scorsese was celebrating his birthday last night.

"Last night JH and I met at Sette Mezzo for a business din. The place was hopping. In one corner there was a birthday dinner for Martin Scorsese. I have no idea who were among the guests (the table was behind me) although I saw Fran Lebowitz enter and they made a docu (of her) together, so no doubt .... At another table Woody and Soon-Yi were dining with a friend. Across the way Hilary and Joe Califano were dining with Jeanne and Herb Siegal. Next to them, Larry Gagosian his lady friend, while next to them Peter Hayward and Shirley Lord were dining with  Antonia and Spiros Milonas and friends, and at the table behind us Hannah Pakula and Alice Mayhew, plus dozens more like ‘em." (NYSD)

Power couple Joshua and Shoshanna Gruss to divorce

"Joshua Gruss, the son of financier Martin Gruss, and his wife, fashion designer Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss, are getting divorced. The couple, who have three kids, were married in 2003 at the Metropolitan Club. The couple has confirmed the split to Page Six, telling us that it is 'amicable and sad,' adding that they planned to raise the children together. Joshua is the CEO of Round Hill Music. Shoshanna started her eponymous label in 1998 and formerly dated Jerry Seinfeld, meeting him when she was 17 and he was 38." (P6)

"I don’t mind spiders. I don’t want them crawling on my skin, but I’m happy to see them crouched in their webs and waiting to score a hapless fly, a deviant sugar ant. Provided they are doing their job I won’t interfere.But these days I’m faced with a dilemma. Recently come to live with me is a small spider. He’s in a corner of the kitchen with a low slung clumsy unwieldy web. There are bits beneath him all over the floor. He’s a slob. When I was a kid I was the bug killer of... the family. Siblings were squeamish and would run screaming from rooms at the first sight of anything small and dark and moving fast. I was the one sent in to deal with insects. It’s not that I liked them, or had some fetish for them. I didn’t want to possess them or put them in glass jars and examine them. No, it was an uneasy truce between the skeeters and I. For relocation purposes I would find a stick around which to wind the web and with it the prisoner arachnid and run the whole thing outside and fling it into a bush. Even a paper tissue would do, just to pin down and gather up the tiny prey so as to toss it out a window. I was inspired by the praise from family members who would cling to each at a distance from me, and quiver until the operation was over. Mosquitos, however, suffer a different fate altogether. If I’m bitten or not I will go after them. Like they are Bloods and I’m a Crip, and it’s a matter of principle. I’m an expert at killing mosquitos." (Christina Oxenberg)